Opinion: Original ideas—not data—are driving creative
The internet is paid for by advertising, and information acts as digital currency. But more and more people distrust the information they find online and have become wary of accepting advertisers or platforms that drip-feed them content.
To put it bluntly, digital advertising has a less-than-stellar reputation. The norm has become abuse of data and information under the premise of better targeting, and consumers are fighting back.
For various reasons—data privacy concerns, civil liberties, frustration with big tech—one out of four people globally were using VPNs in 2019 to browse anonymously. Web browsers are rejecting about two-thirds of cookies, making it difficult for marketers to track people on mobile. Google is promising more user privacy by restricting third-party cookies. On top of this, internet users are employing ad blockers in record numbers (currently 47 percent of ads are blocked).
Only on the internet have behaviors that violated personal privacy been tolerated for a decade. In what other medium would you see the rampant collection of personal data or following and tracking people? Think about laws that are designed to prevent these behaviors in real life. Why would they be tolerated on the internet?
People are speaking up, and access to user data is decreasing. For marketers, diminishing data means lower accuracy in performance marketing.
The result? Data is no longer driving creative—original ideas are. Welcome to the creative renaissance
As audiences shift their consumption habits, marketers have fewer resources to guide them. Copywriters and art directors rely heavily on data—but as it disappears—so will the current structure of advertising.
The Golden Age of Advertising—the ‘60s through late ‘80s—was a time for big ideas. It wasn’t data, but creativity, that drove the industry and captured consumer attention. It was David Ogilvy who said, “If it doesn’t sell it isn’t creative,” and he was right.
Authenticity will return to advertising in order to give consumers a more unique experience, and with more credibility.
For starters, the virtual stalkers, in the form of big tech companies, are slowly going away. This phenomenon could only begin to happen when people were aware of how their data was being used—think of Cambridge Analytica as starting an “internet spring” that had seismic effects.
And as the people begin locking up their internet data, advertisers simply won’t have the same resources, and will need to evolve their strategies in order to remain successful. No more hiding behind the Terms & Conditions.
The landscape for banners and websites will be completely unrecognizable by 2021. Flashy and obnoxious ads and pages that take full minutes to open might make more money in the short term—but in the attention economy, they’re losing money fast. This means that we may begin seeing more media subscription models, which is actually a good thing, because the internet will be a more user-friendly, de-cluttered place.
We also might see new forms of monetization that don’t come in the form of traditional ads, because marketers will need to learn to expand their skills.
Real life happens offline. The internet should be enhancing our experiences, not replacing them. As we move toward an open, better internet, advertising will complement our online lives, not detract or distract. Shouldn’t it have been that way all along?